flowing motion

3 essential steps to become a positive psychologist

Posted on: July 29, 2008

So, I am a psychologist, but how can I become a positive psychologist?

I have found three essential competencies that I need to master in addition to my conventional training.  Can you think of any more?

New maths

1.  I need to be able to think in terms of fractals.   To be more concrete, I need to think of phenomena at three levels.

  • A clutch of relevant dimensions that are interdependent (a recursive model, that is).  So I am happy when the world is good to me and the world is good to me when I am happy.
  • Phenomena that are phase states.  So I am thriving when I am happy about good things and sad about bad things and move appropriately between the emotive states.   I am sort of coping when my state varies but it is limited.  I am definitely not flourishing when my mood is consistently positive or negative no matter what happens around me.
  • The benefits of the phase states are phrased at a different level of analysis, such as prosperity and longevity, and are expressed as mean differences rather than a direct linear effect.

Narratives

2.  Out goes the lab report, though I need it for some things, and in comes the story.  Can I tell a story about who does what, to what, and why?  Can I recount stories that reflect my vulnerability?  Can I create situations which respect the voice of others?

After a life time of “science” I find myself learning the art of story telling.  We have great role models in TED and fortunately great coaches such as Cliff Atkinson are stepping up on the business front.

Personal experience

3.  Have I applied positive techniques to my own life and do I approach situations appreciatively as reflexively as I looked for objectivity in my conventional training?

Am I able to take part in the mutual environment of action research or do I have to hide behind a facade of objectivity?

Any more?  I think positive psychology is going to take us on an interesting journey of professional transformation.

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